May 22, 2024

USDA offers programs for organic, transitioning costs

WASHINGTON — Agricultural producers and handlers who are certified organic, along with those who are transitioning to organic production, can now apply for U.S. Department of Agriculture programs.

USDA’s Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program and Organic Certification Cost Share Program help producers and handlers cover the cost of organic certification, along with other related expenses.

“By helping with organic certification costs — long identified as a barrier to certification — USDA has helped producers participate in new markets while investing in the long-term health of their operations,” said Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux.

“We launched OTECP to build on the support offered through the OCCSP and provide additional assistance to organic and transitioning producers weathering the continued market impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year, in response to stakeholder feedback, we have aligned the signup dates for these two organic programs and encourage producers to work with the local USDA Service Centers and state agencies to complete the applications.

“The FSA, and the USDA broadly, are committed to making sure our nation’s organic producers and handlers have the tools they need to continue positively shaping our local and regional food systems.”

2022 Cost Share

OTECP covers:

• Certification costs for organic producers and handlers — 25% up to $250 per category.

• Eligible expenses for transitional producers, including fees for pre-certification inspections and development of an organic system plan — 75% up to $750.

• Registration fees for educational events — 75% up to $200.

• Soil testing — 75% up to $100.

Meanwhile, OCCSP covers 50% or up to $500 per category of certification costs in 2022.

This cost share for certification is available for each of these categories: crops, wild crops, livestock, processing and handling and state organic program fees.

Producers can receive cost share through both OTECP and OCCSP. Both OTECP and OCCSP cover costs incurred from Oct. 1, 2021, to Sept. 30, 2022.

Producers have until Oct. 31 to file applications, and FSA will make payments as applications are received.

How To Apply

Producers and handlers should contact the FSA at their local USDA Service Center. As part of completing the OCCSP applications, producers and handlers will need to provide documentation of their organic certification and eligible expenses.

Organic producers and handlers may also apply for OCCSP through participating state agencies.

Additional details can be found on the OTECP and OCCSP webpages at tinyurl.com/5c7wxb9c and tinyurl.com/yekhdxxj, respectively.

State Agency Opportunities

FSA is accepting applications for state agencies to administer OCCSP through July 18. If a state Department of Agriculture chooses to participate in OCCSP, both the state Department of Agriculture and FSA county offices in that state will accept OCCSP applications and make payments to eligible certified operations.

However, the producer or handler may only receive OCCSP assistance by either FSA or the participating state Department of Agriculture.